Subhash K. Jha speaks about Straight

By Subhash K. Jha Bollywood Hungama News Network

Let's get one thing...er, straight. Homosexuality is finally out of the closet in our films. Well, sort of. Last year's naughty blockbuster Dostana had two of our most popular leading men "pretending" to be gay.

Now Straight has Vinay Pathak "believing" he is gay.

There's a slender space dividing pretence from belief, especially when it comes to matters of human trait. Often what you pretend to be is what you eventually end up being in actuality.

Fortunately for our serio-comic hero Pinu Patel (Pathak) stiffness in a certain part of the body at the morning hour doesn't imply he's sexually attracted to the new persistently charming new stand-comedian Kamlesh (Anuj Chaudhry) whom Pinu hires for his restaurant.

The scenes showing Kamlesh insinuating himself into Pinu's life and place of work are done with a dash of devilish bravado. Within no time Pinu finds everyone eating not just off his tables, but also from Kamlesh's hands.

A triangle of sort comes up in a queer way when Pinu can't figure out whom he's more jealous about when the new pretty accountant Renu (Gul Panag ) strikes up a camaraderie with Kamlesh.

Confusion of sexuality is a theme yet in its infancy in our films. Director Parvati Balagopalan keeps the going light-hearted and most of the time, frothy and amiable. There's an endearing quality to the way these Gujju NRIs in London are seen not in the predictable roles of migrant misfits, but grappling with more personal problems without taking themselves too seriously.

Seriously, being funny about sexual preferences doesn't come easily to our cinema. Straight just about manages it with dignity and charm. The triangular relationship among Pinu, Renu and Kamlesh is punctuated by bouts of laughter, directed more at the way the characters deceive than conduct themselves.

The camaraderie that grows between the male characters is especially likable. Not just Pinu and Kamlesh, but Pinu and his London-born brother Rajat (Sid Makkar) who finally turns out to be what Pinu suspected himself of being.

Through Rajat some groovy rock numbers (Sagar Desai) make their way into the plot to add to the fair casual-fun quotient.

It's not always that we see a woman director comprehending male bonding without prejudice.

Arranged marriages and unarranged alliances all come into satirical scrutiny under Parvati Balagopalan's vigilant and vivacious camera range. She gets the point out...straight most of the way, thanks to the performances.

While Vinay Pathak brings a characteristic candour and confusion to his character's personality, Anuj Chaudhry as the endearing intruder Kamlesh plays a sincere honest character sincerely and honestly. Gul Panag is as usual, very camera-friendly.

What really works for this film is the uncluttered clean and crisp narrative with London providing a subtly sensuous backdrop to characters that are anything but subtle or sensuous.

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